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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Hi everybody! Jay here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Thai questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: How many ways can you say “I” in Thai?
Explanation
In Thai, we have many different ways to refer yourself. In fact, we have almost 10 synonyms for the word “I” alone. Today, I’m going to teach you some of the most useful ways of saying “I” and some that you’ll encounter in everyday life.
First, we have to understand the most basic and common way of saying “I,” which can be used in just about every situation. This is ฉัน chăn. For example, ฉันทำงานในเมือง. (chǎn tham ngaan nai muueg, “I work in the city.”) However, there are several other ways which are suitable for specific situation, such as gender-specific forms, situations when you’re with friends, and formal situations.
Some of the words you can use when you’re with friends are เรา rao, เค้า kháo, and กู guu. The most informal of these is กู guu. This is usually used with close friends. For example, กูมีสอบวันนี้ guu mee sòp wan née (“I have exams today”) or เรามีสอบวันนี้ (rao mee sòp wan née) or เค้ามีสอบวันนี้ (káo mee sòp wan née). เรา rao and เค้า káo are usually used when you’re not that close to that friend yet or when you want to sound more polite when talking with friends.
Moving on to formal words for “I.” There are ผม phŏm กระผม grà-pŏm ดิฉัน dì-chăn ข้าพเจ้า kâa-pá-jâo First, I’ll talk about the gender-specific forms of “I.” It’s very easy to understand. If you’re a male, you address yourself as ผม pŏm or กระผม grà-pŏm. If you’re a female, you address yourself as ดิฉัน dì-chăn. These are often used in very formal situations, such as giving a formal speech or talking to your boss. For example, in a job interview, you want to say “I have a bachelor’s degree.” As a woman, you can say ดิฉันจบปริญญาตรีค่ะ (dì-chăn job bpa-rin-yaa-three khâ). If you’re a man, you can use ผมจบปริญญาตรีครับ (pŏm job bpa-rin-yaa-three khráp).
As for ข้าพเจ้า kâa-pá-jâo, it’s used most of the time in official announcements from the government or the royal family. The degree of formality has to be really high. For example, ข้าพเจ้าขอมอบหมายให้ทำสิ่งนี้ kâa pá jâo khaaw maawp mǎai hâi tham sìng niî. (“I assign you to do this.”) The prime minister would likely say this sentence to his staff or to the public.

Outro

If you’re unsure of which one you should use, stick with ฉัน chăn, as it’s the safest one that can be used both formally and informally.
Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
Bye! สวัสดี ค่ะ (sà-wàt-dii khâ)

13 Comments

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ThaiPod101.com
Tuesday at 6:30 pm
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What Thai learning question do you have?

ThaiPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 2:13 pm
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Hello sa-wat-dii kha Jim,


Kaawp khun kha, Thank you very much for your comment and question. Yes you're right I think that was a mistake. It's should be "muueang" for city. Hope that's help. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help. We wish you will have a good progress with your Thai.


Have a good day.

Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Jim
Monday at 12:42 pm
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chǎn tham ngaan nai muueg…. shouldn't that be "chǎn tham ngaan nai muueng"? (ng)

ThaiPod101.comVerified
Thursday at 1:28 am
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Hello Abel,


Thank you very much for your comment and question. Yes, you understood right. "guu/rao/khao are not for a specific gender yes, but "guu" is impolite used among close friends only. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help. We wish you will have a good progress with your Thai.


Have a good day.

Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Abel
Wednesday at 1:10 am
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Hi!


So, let me see if I understand correctly.

For chan, it is mostly used by females but can be used by males too in both informal and formal settings?

Pom is for males only for formal setting.


What about gu, rao and khao? Are they gender specific?

ThaiPod101.comVerified
Saturday at 1:17 am
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Hello Frank,


Thank you very much for your comment and shared. Yes, the monk call themselves อาตมภาพ; อาตมา /อาด-ตะ-มะ-พาบ; อาด-ตะ-มา/. We use เขา(เค้า) for "he or she" and some people also use for "I" when speak with a "lover" เค้า(I) and ตัวเอง(you). ฉัน can be use among friends for both male and female as an expression of intimacy, when it is paired with เธอ and when speaking to children, people avoided because sometime it creates distance between speaker (when not know each other really well) and addressee. I think we use all but depend on person and situation. One advice I always give to student is to observe Thai people and copy. check this out, may help explain a little bit more. https://www.thaipod101.com/lesson/beginner-4-which-is-the-right-thai-pronoun/

Hope that’s help. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will bad glad to help you. We wish you will have a good progress with Thai.


Have a nice day.


Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Frank Prumbaum
Tuesday at 3:16 pm
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Several times I heard thai monks use อาตม and young children use หนู but I think there are many more. I never heard someone use เค้า, though.


What I do heard event from my thai teacher before is to not use ฉัน as a man in an informal situation (i.e. talking to the police), cause it would sound strange. Is that right or dependent on the region I'm in?

ThaiPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 1:18 am
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Hello Tom,


Good question. Among friends men and women say "chan" with high tone a lot. Especially in Thai "lakorn ละคร" and also in real life. Don't be afraid to use it with your friends. It's polite and not so distanced between speaker who know each other. Hope that's help. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will bad glad to help you. We wish you have a good progress with Thai.


Have a nice day.


Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Tom
Monday at 12:43 pm
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Hi,


I thought being a male that "phom" was the best way to refer to myself, and that "chan" was for females only. But I can use "chan" or "phom" as the safest options? Does that mean the females would say "di-chan" and "chan"?


Thank you!


Tom

ThaiPod101.comVerified
Saturday at 2:23 am
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Hello Laura,


Thank you very much for your comment and question. "rao" and "pûak-rao" both means "we", "us" and our, but in spoken Thai "rao" can also means "I", can be differentiate by context and when you familia with the usage. The more you practice and around yourself with native, the better you will get. :) Please do not hesitate to let us know if you need any help with Thai. We will be glad to help you. We wish you a good progress with Thai.


Have a nice day.


Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Laura
Friday at 10:37 am
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So ' rao ' means I not 'we?'


Is that puak rao?


Thankyou